A montage of young people when they were 14 or 15 years old. California tried some of the youth pictured here as adults who then spent decades in prison for a crime committed when 14 or 15, others were kept in the juvenile justice system where they received age-appropriate education and counseling, and some had no contact with the justice system at all. Those pictured are now probation chiefs, lawyers, leaders in restorative justice, county heads of nongovernmental organizations and among the authors of the report. 

(Los Angeles) – California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law SB 1391 ensuring that 14- and 15-year-olds accused of crimes will be tried in the juvenile justice system rather than prosecuted as adults. The following quote can be attributed to Elizabeth Calvin, senior children's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch:

“By treating 14- and 15-year-olds as the children they still are, California is acting to promote their potential while protecting public safety. Research shows youth tried in the juvenile system are less likely to commit new crimes than those prosecuted as adults. By signing SB 1391, Governor Brown is modernizing California law to reflect that young people can be rehabilitated and grow into successful adults who contribute much to society.”

Miguel Garcia faced a sentence of life in prison for a crime committed when he was 15 but had the good fortune to be kept in the juvenile system. He recently graduated from UC Riverside, is working full time and planning to go to law school. The following quote can be attributed to him:

“This means no other kids will be left without hope. It means 14- and 15-year-olds will have a chance to learn from their mistakes, be rehabilitated and not create new victims. I know from personal experience that when you get that chance it tells you people care about you. That gives you hope and the drive to embrace treatment and change.”